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etcd - Key-Value Store for Kubernetes

etcd is a strongly consistent key-value store and the most prevalent choice for the Kubernetes persistence layer. All API cluster objects like Pods, Deployments, Secrets, etc., are stored in etcd, which makes it an essential part of a Kubernetes control plane.

Garden or Shoot Cluster Persistence

Each garden or shoot cluster gets its very own persistence for the control plane. It runs in the shoot namespace on the respective seed cluster (or in the garden namespace in the garden cluster, respectively). Concretely, there are two etcd instances per shoot cluster, which the kube-apiserver is configured to use in the following way:

  • etcd-main

A store that contains all “cluster critical” or “long-term” objects. These object kinds are typically considered for a backup to prevent any data loss.

  • etcd-events

A store that contains all Event objects (events.k8s.io) of a cluster. Events usually have a short retention period and occur frequently, but are not essential for a disaster recovery.

The setup above prevents both, the critical etcd-main is not flooded by Kubernetes Events, as well as backup space is not occupied by non-critical data. This separation saves time and resources.

etcd Operator

Configuring, maintaining, and health-checking etcd is outsourced to a dedicated operator called etcd Druid. When a gardenlet reconciles a Shoot resource or a gardener-operator reconciles a Garden resource, they manage an Etcd resource in the seed or garden cluster, containing necessary information (backup information, defragmentation schedule, resources, etc.). etcd-druid needs to manage the lifecycle of the desired etcd instance (today main or events). Likewise, when the Shoot or Garden is deleted, gardenlet or gardener-operator deletes the Etcd resources and etcd Druid takes care of cleaning up all related objects, e.g. the backing StatefulSets.


If Seeds specify backups for etcd (example), then Gardener and the respective provider extensions are responsible for creating a bucket on the cloud provider’s side (modelled through a BackupBucket resource). The bucket stores backups of Shoots scheduled on that Seed. Furthermore, Gardener creates a BackupEntry, which subdivides the bucket and thus makes it possible to store backups of multiple shoot clusters.

How long backups are stored in the bucket after a shoot has been deleted depends on the configured retention period in the Seed resource. Please see this example configuration for more information.

For Gardens specifying backups for etcd (example), the bucket must be pre-created externally and provided via the Garden specification.

Both etcd instances are configured to run with a special backup-restore sidecar. It takes care about regularly backing up etcd data and restoring it in case of data loss (in the main etcd only). The sidecar also performs defragmentation and other house-keeping tasks. More information can be found in the component’s GitHub repository.


etcd maintenance tasks must be performed from time to time in order to re-gain database storage and to ensure the system’s reliability. The backup-restore sidecar takes care about this job as well.

For both Shoots and Gardens, a random time within the shoot’s maintenance time is chosen for scheduling these tasks.